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Anti-conversion laws could be repealed in North Indian state

South Asia

Anti-conversion laws could be repealed in North Indian state

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Pema Khandu, Chief Minister. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Decades-old anti-conversion laws which were targetted against Christians could be repealed in the north Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh.

The state’s Chief Minister, Pema Khandu, told journalists that the legislation “could undermine secularism and is probably targeted towards Christians.”

The law, officially called the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, was introduced in Arunachal Pradesh in 1978. It imposed a fine of 10,000 Rupees and potential one-year jail term for those who converted or attempted to convert a person through “force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means”. Although the law was aimed to prevent what is known as “forced conversion”, it has been used to target Christian evangelists seeking to share their faith.

The welcome announcement from the Arunachal Pradesh government is a marked contrast to what is happening in other Indian states, where several regional governments have either introduced or are planning introduce similar anti-conversion laws.

In May 2018, the government in the state of Uttarakhand, which is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, became the seventh in India to pass an anti-conversion bill.

According to the government’s 2011 population survey, Christians make up 30 per cent of the population of Arunachal Pradesh.